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Gaza cease-fire unraveling amid renewed air attacks

April 02, 2013|By Edmund Sanders

JERUSALEM -- A 4-month-old cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip appeared to be collapsing early Wednesday after militants fired projectiles into southern Israel and the Israel Defense Forces responded with airstrikes against two targets in northern Gaza.

No injuries were reported in either attack.

The exchanges marked the first airstrike by Israel into Gaza since an eight-day offensive in November that led to the deaths of at least 168 Palestinians and six Israelis.

The militants' attack late Tuesday night, which might have been in response to the cancer death of a Palestinian prisoner that day, was the third time militants in Gaza have fired into Israel since November.

The last strike by militants occurred during the visit by President Obama last month, with one rocket landing in an empty kindergarten and another damaging a home, Israeli officials said.

No Palestinian group took responsibility for Tuesday’s attack, but Israeli officials have long said that they would hold Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, responsible.

Israel has said that if the rocket fire continues, other provisions of the cease-fire could be at risk, such as the relaxing of a buffer zone along the border and expanded nautical rights for Gaza fishermen.

Palestinians say Israel has already violated those understandings several times since November.

Separately, Israel said its tanks in the Golan Heights retaliated against targets in Syria on Tuesday after a military patrol came under gunfire from across the border. It was unclear who fired at the Israeli patrol, but officials said they hit the source of the attack.

Earlier in the day, Israel said an errant shell from Syria fell into Israeli-controlled territory.

Spillover from the civil war in Syria is a growing concern for Israel, and military leaders have warned that they will not hestitate to respond to border attacks.

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